Elect the Dead is the solo debut album by (System of a Down frontman) Serj Tankian. Tankian played a majority of the instruments himself but did receive assistance from System of a Down drummer John Dolmayan and former Primus and Guns N' Roses drummer Bryan "Brain" Mantia, along with Dan Monti on guitar and bass, opera singer Ani Maldjian and some string players, Antonio Pontarelli among them. The album was leaked on October 18, 2007. The official tour for Elect the Dead commenced on October 12, 2007 with a show at Chicago's Vic theater.
The first concert had roughly 1,000 people attending, in a medium sized venue. Although Serj had stated he would not be performing any of System of a Down's material, he performed "Charades", a song co-written by Daron Malakian, the guitarist of System of a Down. Although it is originally a song restricted to piano and vocals, Tankian used his backing band, The Flying Cunts of Chaos (F.C.C.), to provide guitars, drums and bass.
Serj Tankian has stated that while some of the songs are new, a lot of them have been with him for a while. The song "Blue", which appears on the special edition bonus CD, is a reworking of the System of a Down demo song "Blue" that appeared on the Columbia promo tape which was given away before the release of the band's debut album.
“ It's very wide sounding — lots of different sounding instruments. The excitement I had making this record was the same excitement I had making the first System record. „
The first singles from Elect the Dead are "The Unthinking Majority" and "Empty Walls". The song "Saving Us" was released on Tankian's Last.fm page and his MySpace profile. The music video "Feed Us" was released on the Swedish and UK MTV. Tankian appeared on MTV's You Rock The Deuce to promote Elect the Dead. A music video was directed and filmed for every song on the record, each by unique directors. Tankian explained, "I asked each of the directors for their visual interpretation of my work. They were asked not to write treatments and that they could make whatever they liked. The results have been overwhelmingly amazing!" . Some music videos were initially released exclusively to those who purchased the limited edition of Elect the Dead, while all of the music videos, except "Money", have since been publicly released on Tankian's website and YouTube channel. Some videos have alternative versions which were originally released as well, but later altered.
Three different promo versions of the album have surfaced to the public. The instrumental promotional version, issued by Serjical Strike/Reprise Records and intended for the music and movie industry, contains instrumental versions of the twelve album tracks. Another promotional version, issued by Reprise Records and made only for individual reviewers, features the album in final master form. This promotional CD-R, which was labeled "Smart Talk" as a codename for "Serj Tankian" to prevent leaking by unauthorized persons, also indicates that the album was finalized prior to August 20, 2007 (2007-08-20). Before this a similar but undated promo, also under the name 'Smart Talk', was issued featuring the final versions of the songs, albeit not yet mastered. Whilst the printed track list on this version is identical the released album, tracks ten and eleven are in fact juxtaposed on the promo itself. .